Members of the Israel trade mission visited Tel Aviv University for a presentation on SmartCity technologies. From left, Vince Rinaldo, director of Ontario Administration/Academic Affairs, Niagara University; Sandra Yeung Racco, Ward 4 councillor; Maurizio Bevilacqua, mayor of Vaughan; Linda Jackson, local and regional councillor; Ijade Maxwell Rodrigues, chief of government and community relations with York University; Alan Shefman, Ward 5 councillor; and Brian Shifman, president and CEO, Vaughan Chamber of Commerce.

Since January, when Niagara University became the first-ever university to be established in the City of Vaughan, Ontario, it has taken deliberate and focused steps to become embedded into that vibrant community by working with local organizations and becoming an active member of the Vaughan Chamber of Commerce. These moves align with the university’s strategic plan and its pillar of expanding Niagara University as the premier binational university within the province of Ontario.

“We are committed to continue to strengthen our binational relationship to build and sustain our cross-border community,” said the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M, Niagara University president. “When we first opened our doors in the City of Vaughan, we knew that our collaboration would extend beyond providing an excellent education that prepares Ontario’s future teachers and educational leaders. We are also partners in the transformation of this binational region to make a positive impact on its economy, sustainability, and quality of life for the people living here.”

One of the most recent initiatives was Niagara University’s participation in a trade mission to Israel in November. Dr. Vincent Rinaldo, director of Ontario Administration/Academic Affairs, accompanied a delegation of representatives from the Vaughan Chamber of Commerce, the City of Vaughan, and more than a dozen local businesses to encourage job-creating trade, build alliances, pursue investments, support the growth of participating local companies and globally recognized institutions, and strengthen relations with Jewish and Israeli communities. 

The group met with the Federation of Israeli Chamber of Commerce, and representatives from the Embassy of Canada to Israel provided a discussion forum focused on Smart Cities and economic growth challenges and opportunities. Meetings with other organizations and educational institutions were held throughout the trip, including the Israeli embassy; SNUNIT, an company that promotes digital education throughout Israel through the integration of technology into teaching, learning, and assessment processes; ATID Technologic Colleges Network LTD, a national network of schools and colleges for advanced science and technology studies; IDC Herzliya, a private and innovative Israeli university with a strong mission of social justice; and Hacker U, Israel’s leading company for training and placement in the high-tech professions. As a result of these meetings, a number of potential partnerships that would positively impact Niagara University as a whole are in discussion.

This effort complements the ongoing presence Niagara University has established in the City of Vaughan, a culturally diverse municipality located in the heart of York Region and the Greater Toronto Area. In May, the university completed the consolidation of its two Canadian sites to the Vaughan Metropolitan Center in the heart of Vaughan’s emerging downtown core. Niagara University in Ontario’s Vaughan site now houses 275 students in its Bachelor of Professional Studies Program, more than 30 students in its Master of Science in Educational Leadership program, and employs nine full-time faculty and administrators as well as a number of part-time faculty and supervisors at that location. This site also acts as the hub for the delivery of its Additional Qualifications courses, its Principal’s Qualification Courses, and its newest Supervisory Officer’s Qualification Program. In addition to these academic offerings, Niagara University has made applications to the Ministry of Colleges and Universities to expand its operations to include three new graduate programs, which would also be offered from the new Vaughan site.

Having a footprint in Ontario has enabled Niagara University to reinforce its 35-year legacy in the province and work more closely with the school districts and colleges on pathways for their students, faculties, and staffs. Since 1984, Niagara University has offered programs in Canada which operate under the written consent of the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, and has maintained strong partnerships with Catholic and public school boards in Ontario, as well as with many of the colleges in the province. It is the only binational university in this region with authority to operate in Ontario.

The permanent location in Vaughan has also led to increases in Canadian student enrollment on Niagara’s main campus in Lewiston, N.Y., strengthening its position as a leading binational university.

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